John Byrne photo Dispensary agent Steve Mays displays one of many products offered at the Silver State Relief facility in Sparks.

John Byrne photo
Dispensary agent Steve Mays displays one of many products offered at the Silver State Relief facility in Sparks.

As Nevada gets closer to the November general election, there is one measure that will draw a lot of attention — the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative.

Question No. 2 on the ballot, if passed, would legalize marijuana for recreational use up to an ounce for people who are at least 21 years of age. Marijuana sales would be taxed like they currently are in Colorado and Oregon, with revenue put into education.

Although the general election is a few months away, Terra Tech Corp, a cannabis-focused agriculture company, has made a $40,000 donation to the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” coalition. This is the first donation that Terra Tech has made in Nevada to spread awareness and education to promote the measure.

Terra Tech holds eight permits for dispensaries, extraction services, and cultivation in Las Vegas and Reno. The company believes that if Measure 2 passes, it would have a big positive impact on Nevada economies with increased tourism and added tax revenue.

“People who come to Nevada have a higher propensity to spend money on gambling, nightlife, and entertainment,” Terra Tech CEO Derek Peterson says. “We put a lot of capital into the industry and right now it’s hard for patients to get signed up to receive treatment.’’

Terra Tech became interested in investing in Nevada because the state allows for an active wholesale market. As medical marijuana dispensaries are becoming more popular in Nevada and the businesses are free to stock the shelves with different product, it offers a unique opportunity for cannabis capitalists.

“Nevada has an entrepreneurial-friendly model,” Peterson says.

Regarding the $40,000 donation made five months before the general election, Peterson said, “Although it’s a little premature to get the message out, there has been a huge misinformation campaign over the last decade regarding marijuana”. But thanks to Colorado setting the bar, there are now quantifiable statistics available regarding its usage and effects.

Peterson claims that since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, the crime rate has dropped, teen usage dropped, and opiod abuse lessened. Although Peterson does acknowledge a concern people have about the effect that marijuana has on society, he feels its benefits far outweigh its negatives.

“No one has ever died because of a marijuana overdose,” Peterson said, and pointed out that Nevada has always been open to things other states might now tolerate.

“Nevada has done an amazing job of regulating gambling and alcohol,” he says. “Three to four percent of adults in Nevada suffer from gaming addiction, but you don’t strip out the casinos,” he says.

Currently recreational users face the issue of obtaining weed through the black market that’s not taxed, regulated or refined. Unlike buying it through a proper dispensary, users don’t truly know what you’re getting when you are buying marijuana without a medical card.

“But people are becoming more educated and open to this coming in,” Peterson says about the changing stigma of cannabis. “Our base wage is at $13 per hour, a lot more than minimum wage in some states, and employees usually get full health benefits,” of working in the cannabis industry. “We support veterans…people are starting to understand that now,” he says.

But mainly, Terra Tech supports Measure 2 because the cannabis industry could be a huge economic driver.
“Californians spend roughly $1,000 on a trip, so you’re talking $1 billion revenue for the state,” Peterson added.
Nevada could be the third largest cannabis market in the country, he says. Peterson said that although a lot of people who oppose legalization feel that marijuana is a gateway drug, he believes that isn’t the case.

“The backbone of Nevada is gaming and entertainment,” Peterson says. “Nevada can set a template for the rest of the country. Here’s a state that has an expertise in regulation along with an entrepreneurial spirit, which invites investment into the state.’’